Road Rules

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Road Rules[edit]

Bicycle NSW have created a handy guide to the commonly referred to road rules related to bicycles.

Road Rules Regulation 2014 is where you'll find nearly all the road rules. Most of the bike related rules are 245 - 262. There are exemptions for bikes to some road rules. Here are a few rules you might like to know:

35 - bikes can do a hook turn at any intersection, unless signed otherwise

62-87 the give way rules (remember, all turning vehicles, including bikes, must give way to pedestrians crossing the street they turn into)

119 - multi lane roundabouts (bikes in the roundabout must give way to exiting vehicles - a very tricky one)

140-145 - safe overtaking, including 141-1 the one metre passing rule

150 - bikes are exempt from the rule that you must not cross a solid white line

151 - bikes are allowed to ride two abreast, with a third overtaking

153 - definition of a bike lane (must have a sign with the bike picture and word LANE) - remember, cycleways and shoulder lanes are not bike lanes!

158 - bikes are allowed to use special lanes (bus, transit, tram and truck lane, but still cannot use a bus ONLY lane)

166 - bikes parked at bike racks are exempt from parking rules

228 - 244 pedestrian and "wheeled toy" rules, including 236 pedestrians must not cause a traffic hazard or obstruction

247 - must ride in a bike LANE (see 153) if "practicable" (does not apply to cycleways or shoulder lanes without the sign)

250 - footpath and shared path rules including must always give way to pedestrians (now possible to have a medical certificate for riding on the footpath)

253 - bicycle riders not to cause a traffic hazard or obstruction

246 & 257 - rules on carrying a person / on a bike trailer

256 - an approved helmet must be worn

258 & 259 - the bike needs a brake and bell / lights at night

268 - persons to be wholly within motor vehicle (no arm sticking out, or slapping riders when passing)

269 - A person must not cause a hazard to any person or vehicle by opening a door of a vehicle

287 - Duties of driver (and rider) involved in a crash: must exchange particulars

288 & 289 must not drive on the path or nature strip (bikes exempt)

300 - mobile phone rules

301 - not allowed to lead an animal while driving/riding

304 - must obey any reasonable direction for the safe and efficient regulation of traffic given by a police officer or authorised person

The Dictionary defines bicycle (including power assist). Rule 15 defines vehicle (includes bicycle) and rule 19 specifies that all references to driver includes rider.


Do I have to provide my Driver's License for a cycling offence?

No, but you are required to identify yourself to a police officer if requested, and they can take you to the police station if they need to verify your identity. You also need to exchange details if you are involved in a crash.

Road Rule Reform[edit]

Are there road rules which could be changed to improve the safety of bicycle riders? Or improve the relative convenience of cycling? Or even that would increase participation in cycling? These could generate some disagreement - that's OK, the idea is to put forward ideas which may be beneficial, for debate and development. If you disagree, don't delete, but add your point of view and evidence. It is OK, too, on reflection on the evidence and views, to change one's mind. Keep it respectful and mature.

Research has found that mostly, the reason people riding break the law is for their own safety. Scofflaw bicycling: Illegal but rational by Wesley E Marshall, Daniel Piatkowski, Aaron Johnson, in the Journal of Transport and Land Use, 2017.

Other topics[edit]

Metre Passing Distance[edit]

There are varying views on the MPD rule, but it has now been implemented in all Australian jurisdictions except Victoria. New South Wales introduced a trial in March 2016, along with other changes to cycling penalties. In May 2018 they published a summary of findings from the two year trial and has committed to keeping the rule. The Queensland evaluation report was very detailed and includes some interesting findings, particularly about the views of police.

One of the criticisms of the rule is that it is difficult to enforce, remembering police need to be able to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt in court. Bicycle NSW have published information on how to use camera evidence to prepare a report to police. In the UK, even without a specific MPD rule, the Metropolitan Police Cycle Safety Team (@MetCycleCops on Twitter) are continually actively enforcing safe passing, including with plain clothes police on bikes. Their excellent example of proactive policing for the safety of people riding could be very beneficial if taken up by NSW Police. Action: write to the NSW Police Minister about how NSW Police could learn from London police and improve cycling safety.

Strict (or Presumed/Default) Liability[edit]

This is a complex and often misunderstood topic. EU harmonised insurance law by default attributes the liability for insurance payment to the driver (who has insurance) in the event of a collision with a pedestrian or bicycle rider, regardless of fault. To some extent at least, this is also the way insurance works in NSW (needs verification). There is scope for improving insurance treatment of crashes - for example, a driver must pay an excess for property damage if they hit another car, but nothing if they hit a pedestrian. Some say we can't have presumed liability for drivers because it goes against our "presumed innocent until proven guilty" legal system, but we presume liability lies with the driver behind in a rear-ender, unless proved otherwise. The topic is frequently raised as a solution to make drivers more careful, but it is more complex.

Here is some further reading on liability:

  • Bicycle Dutch gives an excellent explanation of the issues
  • The Conversation article calling for strict liability in Australia, by Soufiane Boufous, Senior Research Fellow, Road Safety and Injury Prevention, UNSW
  • Cycling Solicitor view from the UK
  • Henry Carus Injury Lawyers view from Victoria, who point out "Strict liability is already in use in other areas of law, including workplace health and safety where an employer has a duty of care to their employees so far as is ‘reasonably practicable’."
  • A view from the cycle path blog with more on the Dutch system

Idaho Stop[edit]

The Idaho Stop is the common name for a law that allows cyclists to treat a stop sign as a yield sign, and a red light as a stop sign. It first became law in Idaho in 1982 and is being increasingly adopted due to the safety benefits for bicycle riders. Paris has followed suit, after a trial showing a drop in bicycle/car collisions.

Mandatory helmet wearing[edit]

Mandatory helmet legislation may be a reasonable answer to the question, "how do we reduce head injuries among cyclists?". But why is that the question? What if the question were, "how do we reduce head injuries among all road users?" or, "across the population?"? Why wouldn't we ask the question, "what has the greatest overall beneficial effect on health of people who might ride a bike?". This is a very polarised issue with great passion on each side, but it all comes down to what question is being asked. And whether that's a reasonable question. Why don't the road safety researchers care about the high prevalence of head injuries among drivers? Surely, if only one life is saved...

See also Helmets

Other reforms?[edit]

What other road rule reforms would improve the safety, convenience, or attractiveness of cycling?